After much debate within its walls and lobbying by the industry, the Commission has published its proposal on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from new cars through improvements in engine technology. The proposal follows a review of the Commission’s 1995 strategy on car emissions, which resulted in its conclusion that voluntary commitments by industry were not working and that legislation would be required to achieve its 2012 target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars to 120 grams per kilometre (g/km).

The main elements of the proposal are as follows. 

  • By 2012, all newly registered cars will be required to meet an average emission target of 130g/km.
  • Manufacturers will have an individual target based on the average mass of their EU car fleet, established through an emission limit curve. Manufacturers can produce cars with emissions above the limit curve provided these are balanced by cars that are below the curve. Manufacturers will be able to form a pool to allow them to meet their combined target.
  • An excess emissions premium will be payable if average emission levels are above the limit value curve. This is based on the number of g/km that an average vehicle is above the curve, multiplied by the number of vehicles sold. Premiums would be set at €20 per g/km in 2012, rising to €35 in 2013, €60 in 2014 and €95 in 2015.

The Commission is also expected to publish separate efficiency requirements for car components such as tyres and air-conditioning systems later this year, to help achieve the remaining 10g/km reduction required to meet the 2012 target.